Amy Coney Barrett lays out rules that govern interactions among Supreme Court justices

 March 14, 2024

As members of America's highest judicial body, Supreme Court justices are regularly called upon to adjudicate highly contentious issues.

According to the Washington Examiner, Justice Amy Coney Barrett recently revealed the rules that maintain order among her colleagues.

Barrett appeared at event alongside Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Barrett's revelation came on Tuesday as she appeared at George Washington University to participate in a panel discussion  put on by the "Civic Learning Week National Forum."

The Examiner noted that Barrett was joined on the panel by Justice Sonia Sotomayor along with chief executive of Citizen University Eric Liu, who served as the event's moderator.

Barrett explained that interactions between the justices are governed by a code of conduct which Liu likened to something out of "preschool."

"There is a norm for how we speak"

"We don’t speak in a hot way at our conferences. We don’t raise our voices no matter how hot-button the case. We always speak with respect," Barrett told those in attendance.

"There’s a norm for how we speak, Chief Justice begins because he’s the most senior, and you go around in a circle. Most senior down to most junior, and you say what you think about the case, and the norm is that you cannot interrupt the other person," she continued.

"So we hear everybody out and it’s not until everybody has spoken that there then can be some back and forth. We do not interrupt one another, and we never raise voices," the justice stressed.

What's more, Barrett said that the justices abide by an assigned seating schedule at lunch and "work very hard" to maintain an air of decorum.

Sotomayor says disputes are resolved via "dialogue"

For her part, Sotomayor shed light on how perceived slights are dealt with, remarking, "Generally, one of our senior colleagues will call the person who was perceived to maybe have gotten a little close and tell them, maybe you should think of an apology or patching it up a little bit."

"It happens in writing. Occasionally, someone writes something that an individual feels is offensive — and not just explanatory," the Obama appointee observed.

Sotomayor maintained that such instances are consistent with "human" nature and are typically resolved via "dialogue."

"All of these things are ways to manage emotion without losing respect for one another and without losing an understanding that each of us is operating in good faith. And I think the public discourse has lost some of that," she concluded.

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Thomas Jefferson
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